By Krista Clark www.theultimateanimallove.com
Roscoe "Roo Boy" Clark; a gentleman and a scholar. This young man was found in a cardboard box along a dirt road along with his sister at the guestimated age of 2 months old. I was a senior in college at Suffolk University and I was ready for a dog of my own. I looked online and found a Pitt-mix who struck my eye and that very day went to go meet him in person. When I walked in and asked to meet Buddy, he was visiting with another potential adopter. So, the desk attendant suggested I walk through the kennel to kill some time. It was a small hallway with about 8 cages or so. I was just near the end when I looked to the left and saw this little brindle puppy named Simba. He was alone in the cage as his sister had just recently been adopted. We locked eyes and I bent down to greet him. He was a wiggly little goof who immediately started licking my fingers and wagging away. A few minutes later the kennel attendant came in and said Buddy was ready to meet me. I hesitated and said, "What's this little guy's story?" Originally, I wasn't looking for a young puppy because they're obviously a lot more work then a more mature dog but something said I needed to see what this guy was all about. I took him out and within 5 seconds said, "So, this is a done deal. He's coming with me." The next day I borrowed my roommate's car and picked him up. He jumped into the passenger seat like he owned it. Driving home I couldn't help but keep looking at my new buddy, he stared right back at me and our bond was instant. I'm not shy in saying that Roo wasn't necessarily a typically cute puppy. In fact, my roommate's first words seeing him were, "He's kind of scary looking.."
He was a goofy cute. Huge ears that didn't fit his skinny little face, chicken legs for thighs and a tail that seemed locked in one position. I saw past all of this however. I'm happy to report that Roo ended up growing into his good looks and now I'm literally stopped on the street by people asking, "What kind of breed is he? He's gorgeous!" Even though 2 years doesn't seem like a long time, I feel like I've had him forever and can't imagine what would have happened if I didn't stop by the shelter that day.
Billy Jean came into the Clark household as a foster dog. Me being the type of person I am though, I got attached very quickly. Even though she's a little rough around the edges.
A few days ago I got an email from the founder of Red Hook Dog Rescue, the organization I found Billy through. The email said that they would be posting pictures of Billy on Petfinder within the week and had asked me to send some updated photos of the little girl. After reading that I sat at my desk and tried to imagine Billy going to a new home. The fact is, I couldn't. Within five minutes I wrote back saying, "I'm actually going to adopt her!" I clicked send and that was that. I'm not going to lie a little panic set in once I realized there was no going back now. A single girl of twenty-four, working an entry level job with not one but two dogs isn't exactly the norm. But, I've never been one to stay within the boundaries of what society deems acceptable. I've always done my own thing and so far it's worked in my favor. I remembered that I was a badass mofo who could do anything I put my mind to. This was no different, I would have two dogs and make it work.
Billy Jean's background isn't one of champagne and rose petals. She spent the majority of her young life locked away in a dark basement with very little socialization. She was terribly neglected. Billy was found tied up in an alley with no food or water because the mother of the boy who "adopted" her didn't want dogs in the house. The young man was most likely going to return her to the backyard breeder he got her from. The breeder would have easily bred her out until she could no longer have puppies then throw her out without a second thought. I wish I could say things like this don't happen often but as we all know, it's simply not the case.
As I said before, Billy is a bit rough around the edges. She is obsessed with food and has a minor case of food aggression, she is unpredictable when around smaller dogs, she bites when she's exited instead of licking and she hasn't quite learned the correct way to play with others. Considering her past though she is still an amazing dog and these behaviors are to be expected. I have no doubt that she will overcome these issues with some training and an owner who knows how to raise a powerful dog (AKA me).
But, don't feel bad for Ms. Billy Jean. She certainly isn't walking around with a chip on her shoulder, even though she has ever right too. I'm amazed by how much she genuinely loves people. Especially, since her previous interactions haven't been positive ones. When we're out on our walks she wants to run up to everyone and smother them with affection. A real social butterfly.
The way that dogs look at the world is remarkable, if we took a second to think about it we could all learn a thing or two from our four legged counterparts. Dogs live in the moment, they don't dwell on the past or all the terrible things that we've done to them. Their ability to bounce back from trauma is inspiring to say the least. I especially see this resilience in the bully breeds. The Pitt Bull was bred for it's powerful jaw muscles and it's ability to withstand tremendous amounts of pain. Because of this, they're often the victims of abuse, neglect and cruelty. The reality is that a large amount of these dogs will be used in a dog fighting ring, either whether their the ones fighting or used as bait dogs.
I'm sure you all recall the story of Michael Vick. The professional athlete was arrested for animal cruelty as a result of his participation in this disgusting "sport". Vick and three of his associates opened Bad Newz Kennels under the guise of being a breeder. In reality, he was running an underground dog fighting operation. The property housed over fifty Pitt Bulls. Vick and his co-conspirators staged dog fights, killed dogs and ran a high stakes gambling ring with purses up to $26,000. Dogs were hanged, drowned, electrocuted and beaten. There are no words that express my disgust and absolute sadness when it comes to these stories. How people can do such things is beyond my comprehension.
Of the 49 dogs seized from the property, only one had to be euthanized do to extreme aggression. The other 48 dogs were taken to sanctuaries to be rehabilitated and eventually adopted. Incredibly, all of these beautiful dogs were able to start over and leave behind their past trauma. Several of them became service dogs who work with cancer patients and children, others were adopted to loving owners and some are living out their lives at the sanctuary.
The point of my telling this story is to illustrate the awe-inspiring resilience of these animals. Regardless of what has happened to them they are able to let it go and live out the rest of their lives with love and peace. They don't resent humans for committing these unspeakable acts of violence. They forgive, wanting nothing more than a loving home and an owner to please.
The story of Billy Jean is yet another example of what amazing creatures animals are. If she were a baby raised in that environment, we would predict that she would become a problem child. Mad at the world and doomed to fall victim to a self-fulfilling prophesy. Billy has every right to hate people. But instead, she greets them with a wagging tail and a big old pitty smile on her face. Even though she's in full on puppy mode and acts like the energizer bunny on steroids, there's a gentleness to her that goes straight to the heart of me.
They say dogs come into your life for a reason, to teach you something. Since adopting Roscoe I've learned responsibility, joy, pride and genuine, all consuming love. He is the first dog that is truly mine. There will never be another like him nor one who will take his place. My little wild child Billy, although new to the family, has already made an impact on my life. She has brought out in me a new level of confidence and helped me realize what I need to be doing with my life. I am and always have been destined to work with and for animals. Billy has taught me how to be patient and the necessity for silliness in all it's forms. Perhaps the most surprising thing that Billy has brought out in me is the realization that it's ok to show your softer side. If you ask anyone who knows me how they'd describe me I'm sure there would be tons of adjectives they'd use. Words like honest, funny, spontaneous and smart would be thrown around in multitudes. A word that I wouldn't expect to be the first thing to come to mind is gentle or motherly.
Now, those who know me well know this aspect of my personality. To the common onlooker, this is probably not so apparent. I come off confident, opinionated and outgoing and I am all of these things but, the gentler side of me is often masked by my independent demeanor. I've always had trouble expressing feelings of vulnerability or attachment because I thought it would eventually end up hurting me. Lets just say I easily wouldn't be publicly writing like this a few years ago. I can't put my finger on what exactly it is about Billy that has affected me this way. I find myself opening up more to friends and family and putting myself out there, knowing all to well that there's potential to get hurt or fail.
The family I've made for myself is a small one, it's not necessarily fancy or even normal to some. The three of us each having our own little quirks and stories to tell of life before now. Thinking about it honestly; this might be hokey but just go with it, I didn't create this hodgepodge family. We were meant to find each other. What made me pick Roscoe out instead of the dog I had originally wanted to see? What made me randomly sign up to be a foster for a rescue in Brooklyn? What makes the idea of Billy having a new owner completely ridiculous? I think that a dog chooses you as much as you do it.
Who knows what the future holds for this little ragtag group of rescues. As for now, I just adopted a feisty pitt from Brooklyn who needs some serious TLC. I'm aware that I have lost my mind and am embracing it at this point. So Billy, formerly known as Charlie whose formerly known as Yo-yo is now Billy Jean (Billy Goat) Clark. Welcome to the family pup!
Image by Krister Goransson/Peak Performance
This story was absolutely heart capturing. It is a reminder that stray dogs, despite their hardships, still have so much love to give. Please don't forget stray dogs!
"Meet Arthur the stray dog who followed an extreme sports team during a grueling 430-mile race through the Amazon rainforest and refused to leave their side until the finish."
From this race, Arthur was able to find his forever home with his best buddy!